After giving birth to three children, Samantha McSwain knows that the first days, weeks, and months after birth can look different for every baby. When in Honolulu, Hawaii, the mother welcomed her first child nearly six years ago, she said, she expected her physical and mental health to be more or less the same as before. But the Bᴏʏ sᴜʀᴘʀɪsᴇd her. Now, McSwain gives other moms-to-be an authentic look at life after giving birth through a photo she shares on Instagram.
McSwain has never been shy about sharing his journey on social media. She regularly posts snapshots of her home life with more than 140,000 followers. But one image in particular caught the eye when this mother shared a raw and candid photo taken just hours after giving birth.
In the photos, she stands with her bloated belly, still tight and bulging after nine months of holding her daughter Korra. There are stretch marks on it, as well as a crease that is still visible. “My journey back to my pre-pregnancy weight certainly won’t be easy,” she wrote at the time, “but I’m taking it day by day. So here I am, day 1 postpartum, in my mesh underwear.”
“I still don’t understand how some women can look their best even after giving birth,” continued McSwain. “Not me, I just want to eat, sleep and breastfeed.”
Everyone immediately applauded the mother-of-three for her honesty. “Can’t get any more real or beautiful!” wrote one in the comments. “Thank you for sharing your journey that so many people don’t talk about.”
In fact, a lot of people have shared their own postpartum experiences… but not all of them are beautiful. “My face changed completely (acne, thin/saggy Sᴋɪɴ, dark circles, hair falling out in patches during the 2 years PP… and my stomach was back to ‘normal’ within 10 days. .. totally crazy and unpredictable “what can happen after having a baby.”
McSwain said she stopped to snap a photo so she wouldn’t forget the moment. At the time, she remembers feeling “physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted”. Despite the pain and anxiety, she is also proud of what she has just achieved. “So I wanted to take the picture because I wanted to remember the exact moment I felt and looked like right after giving birth,” she recalls.
Then she decided to share it online for some reason. First, McSwain says she wants to clear some of the mystery and let other women know exactly what happens to your body after you give birth. She also wanted to shatter the annoyingly persistent ideal that women hold in their heads about “bouncing back.”
She said: “I wanted to send the message to others that this is NORMAL compared to what others present as the ‘perfect’ image of their body. It’s surprising how many women don’t know that this is actually what happens to a wOᴍᴀɴ’s body after giving birth. They want a flat stomach and no stretch marks or tight Sᴋɪɴ.”
McSwain’s post also seems to help other moms struggling with postpartum life. “Thank you so much for sharing this,” wrote one mom. “All I am feeling [at the moment] is ᴜɢʟʏ and like I’ve failed and mixed emotions bout my body. I have a belly little smaller than this and I’m 3 weeks pp after Cᴀʀʀʏing twins.”